Inspiring A Female Voice in Business: A Look at the Elle Wine & Cheese

It's been long said that women have no place in the business world. Well the amazing women brought together by The Entrepreneurs’ Club (TECDE) proved that archaic notion wrong Monday evening at the 18th annual ELLE Wine and Cheese. ELLE – Excellence in Leadership, Legacy in Entrepreneurship – is an event aimed at inspiring students and bringing together local and national women leaders, by celebrating their achievements. Through an amazing keynote speaker, a compelling panel, the profiling of women in business (some of which are our own fellow collegiettes) and a raffle that raised money for D.I.F.D; ELLE and the TECDE team were able to inspire, celebrate students, professors and professionals alike.

The event began at the very origin of ELLE with Bernadette Sarzin, the founder of the 18-year-old event. Although it has not always been called ELLE (in fact it used to be “Hats off to Women in Business”), the main objective has always remained the same: to confront the challenges and glass ceiling facing women in business, to gain access to female leaders and their experience, but most importantly to inspire students, both male and female, to avoid accepting the ceiling and keep pushing for a female entrepreneurial voice.

One of the women who's also shattered that so-called glass ceiling, is the keynote speaker, Janice McDonald. Being selected among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2013 and 2014, Janice McDonald is a serial entrepreneur who got her start in the music industry and is now the president of the Beacon Agency. She brought an interesting perspective to the evening by focusing on how business and entrepreneurs in general, void of gender, should be driven more towards building brands and business for the social good. She encouraged a shift towards focusing on the planet, people and then profit. She also made this collegiette feel a lot better about her mild shopping problem, by highlighting the “super powers” consumers have to drive brands to do business for good.

Following the inspiring words of Janice McDonald, Professor Barbara Orser (a professor and author) took the stage to lead a panel further focusing on the challenges women face in entrepreneurship and financing a business venture. The panel not only consisted of Janice McDonald, but of Vicki Iverson, the CEO and founder of Iversoft Solutions Inc. (mobile apps) and Angela Goran, the CEO an founder of SokJok Inc. The panel touched on a few business lessons they learned as young female entrepreneurs, such as: don’t be afraid to ask for money or help, learn and get ahead; that nothing can stop you if you truly believe in it and that gender doesn’t affect success, if you want to be good you can.

Additionally, Barbara Orser, also named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and her colleague Dr. Catherine Elliot presented their book Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs. The book captures the experience and ideas of over 20,000 women entrepreneurs. It highlights the ability of women to build new brands, to accomplish a lot with limited resources and to create innovative business models based on relationships. It’s a book to inspire women to forge on in business, despite the challenges. In additiona to interject the evermore-influential female voice in business and in the global discussion. This is definitely an addition for the HerCampus Book Club List, collegiette.

Something especially worth talking about was the raffle supporting a very important cause, D.I.F.D or Do it For Daron. One in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives and D.I.F.D aims to inspire conversation and eliminate the stigma. As stated by Janice McDonald, an active member on the board of D.I.F.D, there is nothing wrong with having something wrong. Everyone is affected by mental health and there are many resources offered by the Royal and D.I.F.D that are ready when you need them. If you want more info on all the amazing work done by D.I.F.D check them out here: http://www.difd.com.

The Elle Wine and Cheese was an evening filled with inspiration, advice and raising awareness. So with that in mind, let’s celebrate all that these women have done to further the female voice in business and let’s be inspired to expand it. As the founder of ELLE, Bernadette Sarzin, said, “be unique, be passionate and stand out.” Don’t let being a woman keep you from running the world.

Sources: 1, 2, & photo credits provided by 2060Productions